Friday, May 22, 2015

Harry S. Truman and Me - Getting to Know You

published on: 2/28/2003

Contributing Teacher(s): Linda Denker

Subject Area: Social Studies/MO History

Grade Range: Upper Elementary (4-5)

Materials Needed:

  • Use of the computer & various web sites
  • Truman Footlocker (available through the Truman Library)
  • A&E Biography of Harry S. Truman (included inside the Truman Trunk)
  • Show Box

Objective: Students will learn about a famous person from history, Harry S. Truman. They will investigate the Truman Trunk and have the chance to examine replicas of his personal and family artifacts. They will see how some of Truman''s personal experiences were similar to theirs and have the chance to create their own family trees, name tags, shoebox trunks, timelines, and autobiographies.

Process Standards:

  • Goal 2.1 plan and make written, oral and visual presentations for a variety of purposes and audiences

Content Standards:

  • Communication Arts 4. Writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes)
  • Communication Arts 6. Participating in formal and informal presentations and discussions of issues and ideas

    Time Allowance: Two-week project

    Description: Students see how their experiences are similar to Truman -- family tree, artifacts

    Classroom Component: Part 1 ~ The Truman Trunk and A&E Biography about Harry S. Truman.

    Place the Truman Trunk at the front of the classroom. The information about obtaining this trunk for your classroom can be found at the following web site:

    Next play the music from The King and I, "Getting to Know you". Then have the students try to guess what might be inside the trunk. Ask them if they have ever heard of a man named Harry S. Truman? See if they can tell you why he was important.

    After viewing the items inside the trunk locate the following web site. (Run of copies of this biography from the web site in advance or view it together.)

    Next, watch the video from the Truman Trunk, A&E biography of Harry S. Truman.

    Finally, open the trunk. Pass out items from the trunk to each student in the class. Put the names Margaret, Bess, and Harry on the board. Ask them to share their item with the class and guess who they think their item belonged to and why.

    Divide the items into six stations. Play the World War II audiotape (from the trunk) as they have a chance to circulate from station to station and see all of the items in the trunk.

    Assignment: Now that the students have seen some of the personal items that were important to Harry S. Truman, they are to think of some personal items that are important to them, or symbolize who they are. They are to find a shoebox and decorate it like a trunk. Then they will put some items into their trunks, which best represent themselves. The personal trunks will be shared the next class day.

    Part 2 ~

    The class will view the web site "Harry''s Family Tree." Discuss and define the terms maternal and paternal.

    Assignment:  Students are to draw and label their own family trees. (They may need help from their parents to get the necessary information).

    Part 3 ~ How Did You Get Your Name?

    The teacher will run off a copy of the article titled, "Use the Period After the S in Harry S. Truman''s Name." Students will read the article about Truman. If possible the teacher will tell the students how he or she got their own name.

    Assignment: Tell the students to go home and ask their parents the history behind their own name. How did they get it?

    The next day of class give your students an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of white construction paper to make a nametag. On the front of the tag they are to print their name in large letters and on the back they are to write a couple of sentences to explain how they were named. Laminate these and put them on their desks after they are shared.

    Part 4 ~ Chronological Look at the Lie of Harry S. Truman

    Run off a copy of or study together the web site,

    Put the students together in teams of two to fill out the included quiz sheet.

    Assignment 1: The students will find the answers to following questions.

    Name: __________________________

    Chronological Look at the Life of Harry S. Truman

    1. When and where was Harry born?


    2. How old was Harry when the 43rd and 44th states joined the union?


    3. What year did Abraham Lincoln''s birthday become an official national holiday?


    4. What year did Harry graduated from high school?


    5. What year did Truman join the army to fight in World War I?


    6. When did he marry Bess his childhood sweetheart?


    7. When was his daughter Bess Born?


    8. What year did Truman order the use of the atomic bomb against Japan?


    9. What year did Truman ask Congress to pass the civil rights legislation and to study job discrimination? In this year the White House was remolded?


    10. What year was the CIA established?


    11. When did the Kansas and Missouri Flood kill 41 and leave 200,000 homeless?


    12. When was the Harry S. Truman Library dedicated?


    13. What year was Truman High School, of Independence, Missouri, dedicated to both President and Mrs. Truman. What was the name of the high school mascot?


    14. What year did Harry S. Truman die?

    Assignment 2: Students will complete the handout "My Time Line 1989-1999. This sheet should be taken home and filled out with their parent''s help.

    Part 5 ~ Reading Autobiographies:

    Read the story, "Drugstore Clerk at 14 His First Job." This is a newspaper article using many of Truman''s personal quotes and it is sort of autobiographical.

    Read about one of Truman''s favorite hobbies reading:

    Read about Harry Truman as a piano player:

    Assignment: Students will use the time line they previously filled out to create an autobiography about themselves. Hand out the rubric and explain the expectations of the autobiography. At this time you should discuss what is meant by first person point of view.

    My Time Line 1989-2000

    Directions: Please fill out the following time line. Include the age you were in each year. Tell about an important event in your life at this time. For example: in 1990 an important event in your life might be that you were born. Consider what year you started kindergarten, when you lost your first tooth, when you learned to ride a bike, and important birthday, vacation, sports event, etc.

    I was _______ years old.


    1990: Iraq Invasion of Kuwait


    President in Office: George Bush

    I was _______ years old.


    1991: The Gulf War

    Movie: Beauty and the Beast


    I was __________ years old.


    1992: President Clinton is elected to Office.

    Movie:The Lion King


    I was ________ years old.


    1993: The Missouri Flood

    Movie: Jurassic Park


    I was _________ years old.


    1994: Baseball Strike

    Movie: Speed


    I was _________ years old.


    1995:O.J. Simpson Trial

    Movie: Forrest Gump


    I was _______ years old.


    1996: TWA Flight 800 Explodes

    Movie:Mission Impo

    For additional information contact :
    Linda Denker
    Mason Elem.
    Lee's Summit R-VII
    (816) 986-2330

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